The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 48

48
MARCH 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
AFSA NEWS
In recent months, AFSA
President Bob Silverman
addressed Foreign Ser-
vice retiree associations in
Virginia, Maryland and New
England on the challenges
and opportunities facing U.S.
diplomacy and the Foreign
Service.
No r t he r n V i rg i n i a
On Sept. 25, Silverman
gave a luncheon presentation
to 45 members of Foreign
Affairs Retirees of North-
ern Virginia. He noted that
AFSA’s considerable growth
in membership (now stand-
ing at more than 16,000) is
a result of the rapid growth
of the Foreign Service itself.
He discussed the more
limited policy role FSOs
now play, due in part to the
expansion of the number of
political appointees in the
department. At the close of
the meeting, the audience
posed a number of questions
regarding AFSA’s positions
on issues affecting retirees.
Ma r y l and
On Dec. 19, the Foreign
Affairs Retirees of Maryland
hosted the AFSA president
at a luncheon in Bethesda
attended by more than 50
reitrees. Silverman high-
Service—which began with
AFSA President Meets FS Retirees From Eight States
the passage of the Rogers
Act of 1924—and the many
events taking place through-
out 2014.
Discussion centered
on the risk of reductions
to retiree pensions should
Congress impose a “chained”
Consumer Price Index provi-
sion on federal pensions. Sil-
verman stressed that AFSA
opposes such an action and
is working hard to see that
it doesn’t happen through
advocacy in all relevant con-
gressional committees.
New Eng l and
Silverman traveled to
Boston on Jan. 10 to speak
to more than 50 retirees at
a luncheon hosted by the
Foreign Affairs Retirees of
New England.
Comparing the current
generation of FSOs with
retirees, Silverman observed
there has been substantial
growth in the numbers of
Foreign Service specialists,
especially in the area of
security. He also noted that
virtually all members of the
Foreign Service will serve in a
war zone.
The AFSA president
shared his belief that the For-
eign Service is distinguished
by three features: flexibility,
especially worldwide avail-
ability; discipline, as reflected
in the “up- or-out” system;
and experience, especially
the ability to understand
foreign cultures. In his view,
maintaining these features
as the core of the Foreign
Service is important.
Based on his experi-
ence in the Middle East and
South Asia, Silverman told
the group he believes that
Secretary of State John
Kerry’s initiative in the Middle
East Peace Process deserves
support. He applauded the
secretary’s decision to make
an Israeli-Palestinian accord
a priority at the beginning of
his tenure because as Silver-
man said, he believes that an
agreement is possible.
Subsequent questions
and discussion included
skepticism that Kerry will
fare any better in the Middle
East than his predecessors.
Silverman concluded by
noting some issues AFSA
is working on and made a
pitch for more retirees to join
AFSA. To protect their retire-
ment benefits, he stressed,
retirees need to weigh in with
their congressional represen-
tatives on the “chained” CPI.
Participants also discussed
the When Actually Employed
process and overseas locality
pay issues for generalists.
AFSA has given priority to
reaching out to retired mem-
bers’ associations around the
country to better understand
and respond to retiree con-
cerns.
n
BY TOM SWITZER, SPEAKERS BUREAU DIRECTOR
Amb. Tom Hull, president of Foreign Affairs Retirees of New England, and
FARNE officer Toni Stearns, greet AFSA President Bob Silverman before his
luncheon presentation in Boston on Jan. 10.
PHOTOBYLIZBARNETT,FARNE
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